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New Legal Risks for Credit Unions as Coronavirus Cases Spike

Credit Union Journal

The branch experience has transformed dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Member and employee safety continues to be top of mind for credit union leaders, but determining how to safely operate remains an obstacle the nation nears 3 million diagnoses. On June 19 the National Credit Union Administration announced plans for a phased on-site reopening, only to walk back those plans one week later.

The combination of reopenings and rising case numbers have created new questions for credit unions about liability issues should members or staff contract the virus.


“The liability comes into play if perhaps the customer has a medical or mental health condition that may be exacerbated by wearing a mask,” said Scott Wortman, a partner at Blank Rome LLP. “It’s certainly not within the purview of the financial institution to demand confidential health records supporting such claims.”

If a credit union were to turn a member away, there is potential liability for excluding them from banking activities based on disability, Wortman explained. Consistency is also key — if a credit union is enforcing health measures with one member who may be violating social-distancing guidance, a credit union must do so with anyone else found in violation.

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“New Legal Risks for Credit Unions as Coronavirus Cases Spike,” by Melissa Angell was published in the Credit Union Journal on July 9, 2020.